Liberals need to take back the narrative and accent our illustrious history of standing up for ‘liberty and justice for all’
Call me a liberal.
In fact, I’m proud to be a liberal.
The concept of liberalism, which generally refers to a platform of individual rights, freedom, and equality, were voiced by some Eastern and Ancient Greek philosophers. The 17th-century British philosopher and physician John Locke has been called the “Father of Liberalism” for crafting the framework of the modern-day philosophy that includes private property rights and average people having some say-so in how they are governed.
In the U.S., founder George Washington wrote as the fledgling nation’s first president about how he hoped that “the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far, that we should never again see their religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of Society.” Washington and other founders developed liberal ideas that were set in the Bill of Rights, including freedom of religion, speech, and the press, while ignoring slavery and women’s rights.
Liberals were on the front lines to advocate against slavery and for women’s rights. Harriet Tubman was called a liberal and more profane words after she escaped slavery and helped others do so. Conservative slavery advocates tried to capture her and failed.
Abraham Lincoln was called a liberal and worse, as he wrestled with the evils of slavery while trying and failing to keep the country together. A conservative slavery advocate shot him to death.
Liberals have remained on the front lines in the struggle for women’s rights, civil rights, human rights, voting rights. Women obtained the right to vote nationally in 1920, though that came in certain states well before then. In New Jersey, some women and African Americans who met property and residency requirements could vote as early as 1776, though that was rescinded in 1807. Franklin Delanor Roosevelt’s New Deal set a 44-hour work week and minimum wage in the 1930s. Early in FDR’s term, conservatives plotted to overthrow him, but Major General Smedley Butler exposed the potential coup.
Liberal laws expanding civil rights and forming Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid were passed in the 1960s. Even Richard Nixon, considered by many to be more conservative, created some government…